Friday, October 30, 2020
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New CSJ Associates Share Their Stories

On April 22, these Associates made their First Commitment. Here, they share how they learned about the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto and became CSJ Associates.

Denise Poirier

I learned about the Sisters of St Joseph of Toronto and the Associates online. I was exploring different sites, looking for something that I might find helpful to feel more engaged as a Christian.

Once I met the Associate group, I was keen to participate, as I could see I was dealing with like-minded people in terms of my faith and spirituality; I felt I had found a home base where I could express the depth of my faith, and it would be understood and appreciated. 

I feel very blessed to have been welcomed into the St. Michael Community, and I look forward to future spiritual and personal growth with this group, in addition to finding more opportunities to become a better Christian.

Mary Filice

I am a theologian that moved back to Toronto after being away for 20 years. With my practical work experience having been with women and poverty alleviation, I approached Regis College to inquire about organizations where I could be of service. They directed me to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto.

As an academic, I am surrounded by great minds that research and discuss how we can make the world a better place but don’t often take the steps to act on their beliefs. The roles of research, debate and education have an instrumental function in human development but I craved more. 

The Sisters offer me a safe place to share my burning desire to serve God with like-minded individuals. They provide a community that prays together, works together for the greater good, and inspire me to go out in the world and use the skills our creator has blessed me with for the betterment of others.

Rosanne Athaide

After moving to Toronto from Montreal during my early adulthood, I started going to St. Martin de Porres Parish. I met Sister Mary Rose Marrin, CSJ who was a pastoral associate at the parish at that time. She invited me to sponsor a candidate to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program. It was an enriching experience for me as I journeyed with the candidate because I could appreciate and embrace my Catholic faith in a more meaningful way.

Through Sister Mary Rose, I attended a retreat at Invermara. Later, I joined the group of women and attended monthly meetings at Walmer Road. I also had the opportunity to visit some of the ministries of the Sisters of St. Joseph: Furniture Bank, Matt Talbot House, Mustard Seed. I was so impressed that all these were established to meet the needs of the “dear neighbour.”

Members of the group that met at Walmer Road soon went separate ways. I moved away from Scarborough and assisted in the RCIA program and youth ministry at another parish. I continued to work as a secretary at Development and Peace, an organization that assists the poor of the Global South. However, I felt something missing. I miss the sharing of prayer and faith that I experienced at Walmer Road.

I attended another retreat at Invermara with some CSJ Associates in attendance. I was invited to join the Associates but it took me a while to accept this invitation. Finally, I contacted Weena Lejarde of St. Michael Community and started to attend the monthly meetings as much as I could. My attendance has grown more faithful and I enjoyed the Associates events which are always rich in community and in learning. This has given me the opportunity to live my faith more fully in companionship with others.

Grace Colella

When I was in my last couple of years of university, I considered the possibility of religious life. I was living in London, Ontario at the time. I thought I’d try living in community during my year of Teachers’ College. My spiritual director in London was familiar with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto and referred me to them. During my year at Teachers’ College, I lived in a community that included Sister Penny MacDonald, other Sisters and two students on Dalton Road in downtown Toronto. 

Since I’ve retired, there’s been a space in my life and I began to reconsider the possibility of religious life. I decided that this was too big a commitment at this time and expressed this to a friend who is also seeking religious life. He told me that Associateship was also a possibility. 

What attracted me particularly to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto was the extensive variety of ministry which they offer. Although my participation thus far has been in a retreat, Assembly Day and Matt Talbot meetings, I hope to become further involved in the future.



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